In American society, we are often taught, directly or indirectly, that getting old is something to be feared and avoided as long as possible. However, no matter what we do, it happens to all of us. Watching a loved one, like a parent or grandparent, succumb to illness that makes the person unable to properly care for him- or herself is difficult, even more so if you are not in a position to take that individual into your own care. In such cases, sometimes a nursing home facility is the best option, but it pays to be vigilant regarding the requirements such facilities must adhere to so as to be able to detect any possible neglect or abuse.
In New Mexico, nursing home residents have the right to be cared for properly, treated with dignity and respect, and received personalized treatment according to individual plans. One important aspect of these rights is that there are people on hand in the facility that have the knowledge and expertise to plan and execute such personalized treatment, and that they have the time to do so. Because of this, the state has requirements regarding how nursing homes should be staffed.
First, New Mexico nursing homes must have a full-time director of nursing. There must also be a charge nurse, who is a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse, available at all times (if the director of nursing meets one of these requirements, he or she may act as the charge nurse.) There must always be a nursing staff member on duty in nursing homes in the state, and there should be a ratio of staff to residents of 1 to 10. Further, there need to be direct care hours performed by a manager, such as the director of nursing, an assistant director or department head.
It is very important that these staffing requirements are adhered to, as the ability of a facility to provide adequate care to and protect the rights of its patients depends upon having the requisite people on hand and allowing those professionals to have time to complete their duties to the best of their abilities. New Mexico residents who fear a loved one may have been the victim of nursing home abuse may wish to consider consulting an experienced attorney.